R | 89 min | 2015 | USA | Joe Dante
Released June 19, 2015 via Video On Demand, Burying the Ex is a tedious foray into the world of zombie comedy. With characters devoid of any personality and a running time that far exceeds the material, this film achieves neither the humor nor the scares inherent in the zombie comedy genre.
To be fair, fusing horror and comedy is always tricky. While some films excel at blending these two genres (Psycho Beach Party, Tucker and Dave vs Evil), others tend to focus on one part of the equation at the expense of the other (Haunted Honeymoon, I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle). But rarely has a film so completely missed the mark so as to be rendered utterly boring.
The sheer awfulness of this film is somewhat unexpected given its horror pedigree. Director Joe Dante, responsible for such horror classics as Piranha (1978), The Howling (1981), and Gremlins (1984) offers a bland take on the genre that is devoid of any creative spark. The premise is two parts romantic comedy and one part zombie film. Max (Anton Yelchin) and Evelyn (Ashley Greene) are a mismatched pair who make the ill fated decision to move in with one another. As their differences become more pronounced, Max decides to break up with Evelyn. Unfortunately, she is killed right before he is able to do the deed. Max then takes up with Olivia (Alexandra Daddario) only to discover that Evelyn isn’t quite as dead as he thought.
It isn’t so much the setup of the film that drags it down as much as the film’s characters. We are supposed to root for the coupling of Max and Olivia, whose romance is fueled by a shared love of classic horror. The two picnic in graveyards and take in late night viewings of Cat People and all the while demonstrate zero chemistry. To be fair, this is likely less the fault of the actors and more a reflection on the one-dimensional nature of the characters.
The film takes great pains to establish Evelyn, the undead villain of the piece, as annoying and not proper girlfriend material. That they do this by emphasizing her veganism and commitment to the environment is a curious choice. Max too is a strange character in that he is bereft of any real personality, and yet the film would have you believe women flock to him. Olivia too is problematic. By occupying the position of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Olivia is the quintessential female character with no inner life whose sole purpose is to fuel the story of the male protagonist. Just one of these characters would be enough to sink a script but when combined, this film goes down like the Titanic.
Overall, Burying the Ex is a failure of imagination and one worth skipping.